Road funding back on the table at county meetingThe lack of money to pay for road projects was a topic of discussion again at the Stutsman County Commission meeting Tuesday. “It would be my recommendation to postpone any future paving until we can get caught up,” said County Road Supervisor Mike Zimmerman. “So I guess my recommendation for the federal funds would be to use those to get caught up on our maintenance and chip sealing.”
By: Jackie Hyra, The Jamestown Sun
The lack of money to pay for road projects was a topic of discussion again at the Stutsman County Commission meeting Tuesday.
“It would be my recommendation to postpone any future paving until we can get caught up,” said County Road Supervisor Mike Zimmerman. “So I guess my recommendation for the federal funds would be to use those to get caught up on our maintenance and chip sealing.”
Zimmerman said it will take more than five years to save up the money to complete the next major project on the repair list — the seven-mile stretch of County Road 56 north of Gackle.
Zimmerman said he should hear later this month whether the county receives any of the special road funds available for lake access roads. The county could be allotted up to $250,000 with a $167,000 match required.
Noel Johnson, chief operating officer, pointed out that there is no guarantee of any of that money being available in the new highway bill.
“I mean, you have no money in the bank and you may get some money tomorrow, but that’s not a promise either, so you’re broke — dead broke,” he said.
Commissioner Dale Marks said supporters of a mill levy for roads are considering a petition to ask the voters in November for a 9-mill increase for county roads.
“Only 9 mills — it doesn’t do much,” he said.
The North Dakota Association of Counties is also planning to ask the Legislature for more money for county roads.
Commission Chairman Mark Klose said the commissioners should delay any decisions on roads until they see the next budget.
“Till then we don’t have any money and won’t be doing any projects next year,” he said.
Dell Horn, director of the Stutsman County Community Service and Restitution Program, told the commissioners he would be requesting $15,000 from the county for the program in the 2009 budget.
“We had about 9,241 hours of community service performed in Stutsman County last year,” he said.
Horn said those hours were valued at $60,529 to the 42 nonprofits that received services.
He said the program also saved the county money by keeping minor offenders out of the Stutsman County Correctional Center and leaving open beds that could be available to house prisoners at $50 per day from other counties or the U.S. Marshals service.
The Jamestown region Community Service program also contracts for services with Dickey, LaMoure, Ransom, Foster and Eddy counties and the city of Jamestown.
Horn said the legislation that created the program projected a statewide income of $100,000 in two years from fees assessed those referred to the program. After eight months, the total income was $17,000, with the James-town region collecting 40 percent of that amount. Not all judges assess a community service fee, and not all fees are collected.
“The courts here and in our region are doing their job,” Horn said.
Tracy Trapp, administrator of the Law Enforcement Center, said it might be possible to take half of the requested $15,000 from the LEC budget. He said community service is a good program.
“I’d like to see that utilized more in the future to get some of these minor offenders to community service as opposed to a couple days in the county jail. I think that’s good all the way around. It gets something productive out of the offenders and not send them in with some of the other offenders we have upstairs,” he said.
In other business, the commissioners:
* approved a donated leave request for a social services employee who has been ill.
* approved allowing county employees time off to donate blood at a blood drive being held on Aug. 13 in the LEC.
* approved $21 million in security pledges on $10.7 million of county money held in seven area banks.
approved an off-premises alcoholic beverage permit for Judith Ganser of Anchor Bar for the Fair Grounds beer gardens.
* reappointed James Torrance and appointed Laurel Haroldson to the Central Valley Health Board of Directors.
* agreed to sign a quitclaim deed conveying interest on a small plot of land adjacent to AgCountry Farm Credit Services, 604 18th St. S.W. Johnson said there has been no clear title on the plot since the 1960s and no record of foreclosure, so the county doesn’t even know if it has or ever had any interest on the parcel.
The County Commission meeting scheduled for Aug. 5 will begin early, at 3 p.m., to allow time for to work on the county budget. Johnson said the 8 a.m. meeting on Aug. 19 could take all morning so the budget can be finalized before the county begins planning for the November election.
Sun reporter Jackie Hyra can be reached at (701) 952-8455 or by e-mail at email@example.com